“I Voted” stickers await Alaskan voters during in-person voting at Mendenhall Mall. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

“I Voted” stickers await Alaskan voters during in-person voting at Mendenhall Mall. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Congressional winners raise, spend and save big bucks

Murkowski and Peltola have plenty of funds left over after heavy spending sprees to end elections

Alaska’s congressional candidates spent heavily relative to their means during the last weeks before the election, but the winners still have hefty sums left for future campaigns or other uses.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola had more than $1.1 million in the bank of about $7.6 million raised during the campaign and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski nearly $880,000 out of about $11.3 million, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports. The reports providing specific donor and spending information between Oct. 20 and Nov 28 were due last Thursday.

Each winner faced three opponents whose income, expenses and leftover cash are markedly lower.

In the House race, second-place finisher Sarah Palin raised a total of about $1.97 million, spent $1.9 million and had about $60,000 cash as of the end of November, Third-place finisher Nick Begich III reported $1.64 million raised, $1.55 million spent and $87,477 remaining, while distant fourth-place finisher Chris Bye reported $8,018 raised, $3,940 spent and $4,217 remaining.

Most of Peltola’s donations came after she won the special House election in August, and in turn she spent about $3.1 million largely on closing-days campaigning between Oct. 20 and Nov. 28. Palin raised about $197,000 and spent $257,000, while Begich raised about $87,000 and spent $273,000 during the most recent cycle.

Peltola’s campaign manager, Anton McParland, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday the congresswoman continued to raise funds after Nov. 28, but also is paying expenses remaining from the campaign, so there is currently about $730,000 in the campaign account. He also said some funds were intentionally held in reserve in case of a lawsuit or other challenge to the election results.

In the Senate race, second-place finisher Kelly Tshibaka raised a total of about $6 million, spent $5.87 million and has $136,145 remaining. Third-place finisher Patricia Chesbro raised $188,567, spent $179,084 and has $9,483 remaining. Buzz Kelley, who suspended his campaign and endorsed Tshibaka shortly after the primary, did not file a post-election FEC report.

Murkowski raised about $384,000 and spent $1.75 million during the most recent cycle, while Tshibaka raised $1.1 million and spent nearly $1.7 million, and Chesbro raised a mere $3,475 and spent about $22,814.

Who donated to whom

Besides the differences in amounts raised and spent by candidates, there were distinctions in who made donations.

Peltola received about 44% of her donation total from small individual contributions of $200 or less, about 50% from large individual donors, and 5% from political action committees, according to the campaign finance database website Open Secrets, detailing figures for 2022 (which differ somewhat from FEC figures for the entire campaign cycle that can include one or more previous years). About 97.6% of the donors were fully disclosed, with the remainder split between “incomplete” and “no” disclosure entities.

Palin saw something of the reverse pattern, getting about half of her fund from small individual donors, 41% from large individuals, 4.2% from PACs and 4.3% from “other.” About 93% of her donors were full disclosure, and 3.5% each incomplete or no disclosure.

Begich was an outliner in the race by being the only major candidate to self-finance, with such funds accounting for about 33% of his total bankroll. He reported virtually no small individual donors, which were 0.17% of his amount raised, while large donors accounted for 64.4% and PACs 2.6%. His self-financing was in the form of a $650,000 loan, which he has repaid $200,000 of so far, according to the FEC – meaning with less than $90,000 in his campaign account he will have to tap further into his or other donor funds.

Murkowski also reported a comparatively low number of small individual donors, which accounted for 4.4% of her campaign funds, Large individual donors provided 56%, PACs 32% and “other” 7.7%. Tshibaka got 34% of her funds from small donors, 62.2% from large, 1.1% from PACs and 2.6% from “other.” Chesbro got 50% of her funds from small contributors, 44.5% from large, 0.2 from PACs, about 5% from self-financing and 0.13% from “other.”

Outside offerings

The winners of the congressional races, both nationally prominent political figures for different reasons, also attracted plenty of spending on their behalf from outside entities, according to filings.

Murkowski was the biggest benefactor with about $6.15 million spent on her behalf — plus about $6.9 million opposing Tshibaka. Tshibaka saw about $825,000 spent on her behalf by outside entities, who spent roughly another $1 million opposing Murkowski.

Peltola got a significant boost with $2.9 million in outside spending on her behalf, with a mere $25,000 spent opposing her. Begich got $1.2 million in outside spending and none opposing him, while Palin got $591,544 in outside spending on her behalf and $34,944 in opposition.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

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